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Purimshpil in August

Klezfest in Ukraine, 2005


          Klezfest in Ukraine, 2005, was dedicated to studying the Jewish folk musical theatre of Purimshpil, as well as to further work on the modern professional skill and creativity of the participants.

          A book "Purimshpil. Scenario for work at Klezfest in Ukraine, 2005" (Kiev: The Centre of Jewish Education in Ukraine. Jewish Music Department, 2005) was published for the event. The book has been prepared using Moisey Beregovsky's materials from his "Jewish folk musical theatrical performances" (Kiev, Institute of Judaic Library, Publisher "Duh I Litera", 2001). The book was released for the use of musicians and teachers in concert work and education.

          "We rehearsed Purimshpil for 3 days. Our teachers had arrived earlier, so they knew were familiar with the music. Kiev participants had rehearsed the songs in advance. The music was mostly composed by Polina Achkinazi-Shepherd. The music was beautiful. Sometimes it reminded of some revolutionary marches :). It was sung very emotionally and colourful. Some of the songs were just like top-hits. The final version was shown on Wednesday (August the 24th).
          Three different instrumental groups rehearsed several songs each. Then we brought everything together. At Gala concert we performed a 15-minute extract."

Michael Rubin, Vitebsk, Belarus

         "The variety of the orchestra's tembres was very handy, especially because the main theme of this year's festival was to do with musical theatre show. klezfest-2005 was dedicated to the music of Purimshpil. Those knowledgeable on this can miss the next paragraph, but I'll shortly explain to those who haven't heard of it. (May specialists forgive me some freedom of wording and daring analogies.)

         Purimshpil is a traditional Jewish play that slightly reminds of the Ukrainian Vertep theatre or the Mystery of the middle centuries. But yet it is based on a plot from the Old Testament. The holiday of Purim is dedicated to the same story (this is where the name comes from). The plot itself sounds rather up-to-date although it's ancient.

         If one wanted to tell the story in a politic journalist manner, it would be something like the following - this story tells how, due to skilful lobbying, an anti-Semitic affair was denounced and an act of genocide was prevented.
Those who want to know more details should go to the first primary source.

         Although the main plot is always the same, Purimshpils allow certain textual, production and musical freedom, because every actual scenario would be written just once for that year (or at least would be hugely changed in comparison to a previous year one). This opens up a lot of space for participants' fantasy and creativity.

         Anyhow, we (and hopefully, all other participants of the seminar) enjoyed the Purimshpil work a lot. We also hope that the audience who saw and heard it, received a powerful charge of positive emotions.

         The Klezfest-2005 Purimshpil was directed by Alina Ivakh, scenario composed by Eugenia Lopatnik, music by Polina Shepherd."

Miroslav Polischuk, Odessa, Ukraine

Starring :

Igor Pehovich (Russia, Moscow) - Councilor - Mordkhe

Igor Pehovich as a Councilor performing at Gala-concert of Klezfest in Ukraine, 2005 (mp3, 316 Kb)

Ayn gutn purim, a gutn purim, mayne libe layt,
Ikh vel aykh zogn, vos haynt batayt.
Haynt iz a tsayt vos purim batayt,
Me darf teyln tsdoke oreme layt.
S'iz faran fil vayber un kinder, vos veysn nit vos in der megile shteyt.
In der megile shteyt in dem ershtn posek:
Vayhi bimey Akhashveyresh, in Akhashveyresh tsaytn
Iz geven gzeyres af fil laytn.
Un itst: Arayn, arayn, Foter kinig du mayn!


Good Purim, my beloved people.
I will tell you what Today means.
Today is the time which Purim means,
We must share Tsdoka with poor people.
Here are many women and children, which do not know what is written in the scroll.
In the scroll it is written in the first fragment:
"And this was within the time of Akhashveyresh".
And there were punishment for all our people.
And now: Enter, enter, Father-king you are of mine!

Maxim Osin (Ukraine, Kiev) - Akhashveyresh

Maxim Osin as Akhashveyresh at Gala-concert of Klezfest in Ukraine, 2005 (mp3, 181 Kb)

Drum, kantslar, badiner du mayn,
Loyfn zolstu tsu der malke Vashti in zal arayn,
Farshprekhn zolst ir zeyer sheyn un fayn,
Az kayn nar zol zi oykh nit zayn,
Di kleyder arop, Di kroyn afn kop,
Dize tsvey bekher, vos zi t'haltn in ire beyde hent,
Dize bekher, vos zaynen mit med un mit vayn,
Di zakh zol gikher un geshvinder zayn.

Hey, councilor, my servant,
Run into Queen Vashti's chambers
You must talk her Into this beautifully and smoothly,
So she doesn't feel like a fool.
Clothes down,
Don her crown,
These two goblets, which she held in both hands,
These goblets with honey and wine,
The deed must soon be done.



Yana Ovrutskaya (Russia, Moscow) - Vashti

Yana Ovrutskaya as Vashti at Gala-concert of Klezfest in Ukraine, 2005 (mp3, 143 Kb)

Drum, kantslar, badiner du mayn,
Loyfn zolstu tsum altn hiner-freser in zal arayn
Farshprekhn zolstu im zeyer sheyn un fayn,
Az kayn nar zol er oykh nit zayn.
Vos zhe tut er,
Vos zhe makht er,
Vos zhe bildet er fun zikh aza groysn vezn?
Tsi den gedenkt er nit, az er iz ba mayn foter af di kozles gezesn?



Hey, councilor , my servant,
Run into the old glutton's hall,
You must talk him into this beautifully and swiftly,
So, he, too does not feel himself a fool.
What is he doing,
What is he trying to prove,
Why is he trying to make himself look like such a mugwump?
What, he does not remember, that he sat in my father's coach box?


Eugenia Balabanova (Russia, Moscow) - Ester

         We started our work on the Purimshpil in May: tried to look through the roles, to find what we had enough of and what we lacked. Polina Shepherd with her melodies fitted the style brilliantly. So by the beginning of our rehearsals with the choir and orchestra we'd already tried ourselves on stage. As if the actors were born for their roles: so natural and clever their characters looked.

         Of course, we didn't have enough time for proper stage work. It would be nice in the future to think more about the characters' relationships on stage in both musical and visual ways. But for the time we did have, the show has got a rather watchable and listenable shape. Of course with a choir and an orchestra it impresses even more, and with the costumes it becomes a fascinating adventure.

         Children's' performance fit the show in a very organic way. They played the King's servants with enthusiasm. Also the large fan people were quite effective. The instrumental and choral groups created a wonderful musical frame. The group of the main actors and directors were fully committed to the show. They presented high professional skills and ability to find solutions according to situation, which created a solid basis for further work."

Eugenia Balabanova as Ester at Gala-concert of Klezfest in Ukraine, 2005 (mp3, 339 Kb)

Vi di yidn zaynen in Shushan habiro aropgekumen
Un hobn zikh bazetst af an ort,
Plutsling iz af zey a gzeyre aropgekumen
Mit Homon horoshes a vort.
Vos zol ikh nit veynen, vos zol ikh nit shrayen, es iz farfaln mayn velt,
O, yidn, tut veynen, o, yidn, tut shrayen,
Mir zaynen in goyishe hent.
Ikh, Ester, tu atsind kum tish tsugreytn
Un a sude derbay
Dem meylekh mit Homonen tu ikh dokh betn,
Kedey di yidn zoln zay fray.


As the Jews gathered in the capitol Shushan and took their places,
Suddenly a punishment fell over them,
Because of the word of the evil Haman.
How can I not cry, how can I not scream,
When the world will perish.
Oh Jews, cry and scream, we are in another's hands.
I, Esther, will now go make a feast,
To call the King and Haman and free the Jews.


Alina Ivah (Russia, Moscow) - Homon

          Purimshpil work has taught me many things. The work on the Yiddish text, improvisational rehearsals with the musicians, learning a huge amount of material about Purim... The work on bringing the show together was a very important experience for me personally. The orchestra of 30 instrumentalists, the choir of 30 singers and the actors managed to create a complete show in a very short period of time. In my opinion, it worked really well.

          It would be nice to continue work on this project, as there were so many fantastic ideas that we didn't have time for. It would be good to have a proper theatre show on a professional level. I'd like to also see proper stage decoration and costumes. It would be wonderful if the audience of this colourful show increased.

          I'd like to mention and to thank for an excellent work Eugenia Lopatnik (texts and scenario), Polina Shepherd (music), Natasha Kasyanchik, Alla Dantsig and Lesha Rozov (energetic and quality work with the musicians), Maxim Osin, Igor Pehovich, Yana Ovrutskaya, Zhenya Slavina (talented acting and hard work). And of course, many thanks to Yana Yanover who gave us the possibility to do all this!!!"

Alina Ivah as Homon and finale performed by Maxim Osin following by chorus at Gala-concert of Klezfest in Ukraine, 2005 (mp3, 625 Kb)


Vu vel ikh hengen mayn mits, mayn mits?
Where will I hang my hat?


Afn galgn z'do a shpits,
Dortn vestu hengen dayn mits.
Gey, mayn shenster,
Gey mayn bester,
Gey aruf un heng zikh uf.
On the pillar there is a spike,
There you will hang your hat,
Go my pretty,
Go my best,
Get up and hang.


Vu vel ikh hengen mayn rok, mayn rok?
Where will I hang my suit?


Afn galgn iz do a tsdok,
Dortn vestu hengen dayn rok.
Gey mayn sheyner…
On the pillar there is a spike,
There you will hang your suit,
Go my pretty…


Vu vel ikh hengen mayn shtivl mit shporn, mayn shtivl mit shporn?
Where will I hang my boot with spurs?


Afn galgn iz do a horn,
Dortn vestu hengen dayn shtivl mit shporn.
Gey mayn shenster…
On the pillar there is a spike,
There you will hang your boot with spurs,
Go my pretty…


Vu vel ikh hengen mayn hemd, mayner hemd?
Where will I hang my shirt?


Afn galgn iz do fir vent,
Dortn vestu hengen dayner hemd.
Gey mayn shenster…
On the pillar there is a spike,
There you will hang your shirt,
Go my pretty…

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